Joshua Schmidt’s haunting musical adaptation of Elmer Rice’s Expressionist tragedy the “Adding Machine,” currently playing downtown at the Minetta Lane Theatre, is a stunning artistic achievement. Directed by David Cromer with daring style the brilliantly conceived production is simply shattering. While the moody chamber piece may not be for the masses, Cromer’s original staging of the dark tale is nonetheless a bracing heartbreaker that remains true to the source material, while courageously avoiding commercial conceits.
After Mel Brooks, could John Waters, the self styled auteur of trash be far behind? Encouraged by the mega success of the Broadway production of “Hairspray,” John Waters has consented to this campy multi-million dollar musical adaptation of his 1990 film “Cry Baby” that starred a quirky Johnny Depp.
Who would have thought a 1980 big budget movie musical turkey starring Olivia Newton-John would be reincarnated on Broadway as an absurdly silly send up of itself.
The jukebox musical Xanadu is the first show of the new Broadway season and from the looks of things may be just what the doctor ordered, “Inspired magic to heal what ails you.” This deft spoof at the Helen Hayes Theatre has audiences roaring with delight at the preposterous shenanigans from the top notch ensemble.
The new Mel Brooks musical Young Frankenstein,” based on his classic film, opened on Broadway with strong word of mouth from Seattle, indicating Mr. Brooks was poised to top his mega smash hit The Producers. With a reported excess of $30 million in advance ticket sales the splashy new musical is already a success and nothing anyone might say will ultimately matter much, but here we go, Young Frankenstein is a big bloated monster of a show, an over amplified extravaganza, dazzling in every detail, but missing the charm of the original film upon which it was based.
As part of Edward Albee’s ongoing 80th birthday celebration the playwright has directed two of his early one act plays, “The American Dream” and “TheSandbox” at the venerable Cherry Lane Theatre. The satires of American values, intended as a homage to the French absurdist Eugene Ionesco, were written almost 50 years ago as an assault on middle class values, but today remain startlingly fresh and even contemporary.
A musical that really goes to unexpected places, that’s NEXT TO NORMAL. Yes that’s the name of the show. Actually it’s about bipolar disease, the darkest side of the mind and the dark ways in which we perceive it and treat it. Not a predictable or even plausible subject for a musical. But as it unfolds here in an uncanny, sensitive book by Brian Yorkey, the story is suspenseful and provocative.
MCC Theater is presenting “Grace,” an acclaimed hit at London’s Soho Theater, now making its American premiere with Lynn Redgrave reprising her starring role. The distinguished actor is a commanding presence as the title character, a British professor of science, who calls herself a “naturalist” and has little need for God; considering the belief in a higher power or divine being to be “bollocks, complete and utter bollocks!”
There is something absolutely contrary to a Broadway play, something that resides in a private, inner space. Here the gestures are as big as they appear to the inner eye, regardless of whether the guy in the back row notices them or not. And that is what going to an Off-Broadway show is all about – about uncovering a secret… the songs of a young Jonathan Larson (“Rent”), or a first-time role for the likes of Dustin Hoffman.
A trio of new plays recently opened at all three theaters housed at the 59E59 complex, where Primary Stages is the resident company on the main stage. The playwrights on display are a diverse sampling of distinctly different talents all possessed with tantalizing ideas, provocative themes, and a good ear for contemporary dialogue.
If you don’t want to see Ellen Burstyn lying in a hospital bed, you may not want to sit through Stephen Adly Guirgis’ new play “The Little Flower of East Orange”. But the amazing actress, looking her years, still exudes the innocent charm and eager optimism that made her performance in “Alice Doesn’t Live HereAnymore” so unforgettable.
The new Harvey Fierstein/John Bucchino musical “A Catered Affair” is a heartfelt little gem, a lovingly subdued ode to real emotions and genuine feelings. If, however, the predictable evening doesn’t succeed as compelling musical theater there are many distinct charms to be savored from John Doyle’s intimate production. Here is a decidedly risky venture for Broadway, a musical that relies upon sincerity and simplicity, where the music underscores the action instead of overwhelming it, moving the story along with quiet introspection.
Roundabout Theatre Company’s stunning revival of Stephen Sondheim’s 1984 Pulitzer Prize winning musical “Sunday in the Park with George” beautifully illuminates the struggle and sacrifice inherent in the creative process. Directed by Sam Buntrock, the emotionally charged show arrives on Broadway by way of London, where Buntrock originated his innovative new production at the Menier Chocolate Factory in 2005. The sold out run transferred to the West End winning five Olivier Awards (London’s equivalent of the Tony) before coming to New York with the two leads, Daniel Evans and Jenna Russell, reprising their award winning performances.
The historic African-American production of Tennessee Williams’ 1955 Pulitzer Prize winning masterpiece “Cat On A Hot Tin Roof” directed by Debbie Allen, although not the crowning achievement one had hoped, scores as entertainment none the less. Approved by Williams’ estate for Broadway the revival has a star studded cast of charismatic actors, who understand the passions of Williams’ dysfunctional family, allowing the magic of the playwright’s language to overcome Allen’s uninspired direction.
Weaving a hypnotic spell the exciting new musical, “Passing Strange, has transferred to Broadway after a well received engagement downtown at the Public last summer. Breaking with tradition the musical is an amalgamation of styles that fuses a variety of distinctive forms from cabaret to gospel into a consistently inventive blend that feels more like a high concept hybrid performance art/ rock concert than a Broadway musical. Whatever you call it, there is no doubt this is beguiling theater, a new form that refuses to be pigeon holed.
The advance buzz has been overwhelming, and we have been inundated with questions about the new Broadway musical Spamalot. Did you like it? Did they do a good job adapting it for the stage? Is it all that? Did you have to see the movie to follow it? Yes, yes, yes, and no with superlatives all around for the entire team. How could anyone not like this affectionate send up of the film Monty Python and the Holy Grail, unless of course you are devoid of a sense of humor. The adaptation is amazing and then some with the added satire on Broadway musicals, especially skewing Andrew Lloyd Webber. Yes, indeed, we enthusiastically endorse Spamalot, an outrageously silly show and witty spoof, which will most assuredly entertain young as well as old.